Petkeen is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commision. Learn More

Umbrella Cockatoo

Nicole Cosgrove

The all-white Umbrella Cockatoo is a majestic bird that can live for seven decades. This bird is completely white except for a distinct yellow lemon color under the wings and at the base of the tail that’s visible when the bird is in flight. This is the only large cockatoo with an entirely white crest. Normally this cockatoo’s crest lies flat on its head but it is raised when the bird is excited, curious, and/or fearful. The crest takes on a round, umbrella shape when raised, giving this beautiful bird its name.

The Umbrella Cockatoo has a grayish-black beak that’s large, curved, and powerful. The males of the species have very dark brownish-black eyes while the females’ eyes are reddish.

If you’re interested in a bird that’s very smart, social, and easy to train, the Umbrella Cockatoo may be a good match for you. This bird can be taught to perform tricks and mimic speech, making it a delightfully entertaining feathered friend to have around. Umbrella Cockatoos make great companions for bird lovers of all ages and it’s a bird that loves to cuddle and form a strong bond with its owner.

divider-birdcage

Quick Facts about Umbrella Cockatoo Bird

Common Names: White Cockatoo, White Crested Cockatoo
Scientific Name: Cacatua alba
Adult Size: 18 to 24 Inches
Life Expectancy: 60-70 years

Origin and History

The Umbrella Cockatoo is native to the central and northern parts of the Indonesia, where it lives in tropical rainforests. Today, Umbrella Cockatoos can be found throughout Indonesia. These birds tend to live along rivers and on the edges of cleared farmland where food is bountiful. You can also find these birds in mangroves, swamps, and open woodlands.

Umbrella Cockatoos were kept as pets in China as far back as the Tang Dynasty during the 7th century. Unfortunately, today, the number of Umbrella Cockatoo in the wild is decreasing because of a loss of habitat and due to trappers capturing these birds to sell as pets.

Umbrella Cockatoo
Image Credit: FRAMEFABLE, Unsplash

Temperament

Umbrella Cockatoos are great companion birds due to their gentle, docile, sweet-natured temperament. In the wild, this bird mates for life and forms a very close bond with its mate. If a pair of Umbrella Cockatoos are separated, it’s common for both of the birds to become genuinely depressed.

The Umbrella Cockatoo is rarely aggressive and it will form a quick, strong bond with its caretaker. This is an affectionate bird that loves to cuddle with its owner or even with objects it likes. This bird demands attention and loves to be spoiled. If allowed to do so, an Umbrella Cockatoo will learn to manipulate its owner, so it’s important for anyone owning this bird to set limits.

If you’re looking for a quiet bird to keep as a pet, the Umbrella Cockatoo isn’t the best choice because it’s a noisy bird that loves to chatter. This bird can be taught to talk although it’s never guaranteed that every Umbrella Cockatoo will learn to mimic speech. Some learn to mimic speech rapidly while others never catch on so you never know!

Pros
  • Intelligent
  • Loving and devoted to its owner
  • Active and personable
Cons
  • Very chatty and a bird that loves to yell out loud
  • Loves to chew and can destroy property if left out of the cage

Speech & Vocalizations

The Umbrella Cockatoo is generally good at mimicking human speech and sounds. This bird has a soft, sweet-talking voice and can say a couple of dozen words in total. However, there’s no guarantee that an Umbrella Cockatoo will learn to mimic speech as some of these parrots are very talkative while others never learn.

Umbrella Cockatoos are also known to babble sounds that have no meaning. This often happens when one of these birds tries to mimic speech when more than one person is talking. In the end, the sounds blend into one incomprehensible noise that can be annoying.

It takes time, patience, and perseverance to train an Umbrella Cockatoo to speak. It’s best to start out repeating simple words like “hello”, “goodbye” and “goodnight” using an upbeat, positive tone.

Umbrella Cockatoo Colors and Markings

The Umbrella Cockatoo is a mostly white bird with an all-white umbrella-shaped crest. When happy, upset, excited, scared, or annoyed, the Umbrella Cockatoo will raise its crest into an umbrella-like shape that looks very impressive.

The bottom of the wings and the tail feathers of the Umbrella Cockatoo are an ashen, lemon yellow color that looks stunning in flight. The coloring of the male and female Umbrella Cockatoo is very much the same although the male has dark brown or black eyes while the eyes of the female are more reddish-brown.

The beak of the Umbrella Cockatoo is black and the feet are gray or black. Some of these birds have a light blue tinge in the rings around their eyes.

divider-bird

Caring for the Umbrella Cockatoo

The Umbrella Cockatoo is a large bird that needs a large cage to live in. Because this bird can easily become stressed if it feels it’s being contained in a small area, be sure to get a cage that offers lots of space for living and playing. This bird can act out and become very unhappy in a small space wherein it can harm itself or become ill.

Being a diurnal bird, the Umbrella Cockatoo needs a long night’s sleep that lasts at least ten hours. This bird must be provided with peace and quiet at night so it gets the sleep it needs to live a happy long life.

The Umbrella Cockatoo can live alone in captivity or with one or more other birds. If you plan on getting more than one bird, be sure you provide the birds with a very large cage so they each can have their own space.

Because the Umbrella Cockatoo has a long lifespan, owning this bird is a long-term commitment. The Umbrella Cockatoo owner should have some experience caring for parrots as this bird needs someone with a strong hand to raise it properly.

The Umbrella Cockatoo is a social bird that demands attention. Plan on playing with your bird for a couple of hours a day. It’s important to provide your bird with toys it can play with when you’re not around to avoid the bird becoming bored and possibly destructive.

The Umbrella Cockatoo emits a powder dust that can irritate people with allergies or respiratory issues. To cut down on this powder dust, an air purifier can be placed in the room the bird is kept in. Another way to help cut down on the dust is to give the bird regular baths using clear, warm water.

Umbrella Cockatoo inside cage
Image Credit: Karina Maslina, Unsplash

Common Health Problems

While Umbrella Cockatoos are generally healthy birds, they are prone to some common health issues like any other bird species. If not given enough mental stimulation, the Umbrella Cockatoo can pick or pull out its feathers. This bird is also prone to common diseases and conditions found in parrots like psittacine beak and feather disease (PBFD), fatty liver disease. This bird can also become overweight if it’s fed a fatty diet.

It’s not easy to know when an Umbrella Cockatoo is ill. However, if your bird becomes withdrawn and loses its appetite, there may be something wrong. It’s always best to contact your veterinarian anytime you think your pet bird isn’t feeling well.

Diet and Nutrition

Like other parrots, Umbrella Cockatoos have big appetites and they love to eat. In the wild, this bird spends most of its time foraging for seeds, nuts, coconuts, and grains in farmlands. When kept in captivity, the Umbrella Cockatoo must be provided with a formulated pellet diet. You can also feed this bird an array of healthy foods including leafy greens, root vegetables, berries, and fresh fruits.

Now and then you can provide an Umbrella Cockatoo with a variety of nuts like pecans, walnuts, almonds, and hazelnuts. This bird also enjoys high-quality grains and seeds like quinoa, flaxseed, and hemp.

Poor nutrition can be problematic for an Umbrella Cockatoo. To avoid problems, consult with your veterinarian to ensure you’re feeding your bird the right foods. This bird needs a varied diet so don’t rely on pellets alone. Instead, always offer your bird things like greens, fruit, seeds, berries, and vegetables.

Umbrella Cockatoo at night
Image Credit: Edgar López, Unsplash

Exercise

Like other parrots, Umbrella Cockatoos need plenty of regular exercise. This bird should spend at least two hours every day outside its cage for attention, play, and exercise. Give your bird some chewable bird toys to keep it busy and to exercise its powerful beak.

You can teach your Umbrella Cockatoo to play games like catch on the floor with a lightweight ball. When inside the cage, provide your bird with ladders and swings to keep it active and engaged. It’s wise to rotate any hanging bird toys in the cage to keep your feathered friend interested in the toys.

Where to Adopt or Buy an Umbrella Cockatoo

You can find Umbrella Cockatoos to adopt or buy in local pet stores and from private breeders. If you choose to buy a bird from a pet store, be sure the bird has been given the human attention and interaction it needs to be a good pet. It’s always best to buy or adopt an Umbrella Cockatoo from an experienced breeder who knows what it takes to raise healthy and happy birds.

Thanks to the internet, it’s very easy to find Umbrella Cockatoos for sale. If you use the web to look for a bird, take your time when shopping to be sure you’re getting a bird from a reputable source.

divider-birds

Conclusion

Umbrella Cockatoos are gorgeous birds with big personalities that make great pets. However, this parrot isn’t for everyone as it’s best kept by an experienced bird owner. The Umbrella Cockatoo is a personable, funny bird that demands a lot of attention. This bird can easily manipulate an inexperienced owner so a firm hand is needed to keep this bird as a pet.

The Umbrella Cockatoo is a chatty, noisy bird that loves cuddling with the object of its desire. This is a sentimental, personable bird that becomes very unhappy if kept in isolation. To be a good owner of this bird, you have to provide it with plenty of attention, exercise, and mental stimulation.


Featured Image Credit: Nigel Dowsett, Shutterstock

Nicole Cosgrove

Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts' knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.